Strong Group weathers UAE national team in Dubai opener

Luisa Morales - Philstar.com
Strong Group weathers UAE national team in Dubai opener
Nick Young
Screenshot from Dubai Sports Livestream

MANILA, Philippines — Strong Group Philippines took a convincing 91-87 victory in their opening game of the 32nd Dubai International Basketball Championship at the Al-Nasr Club Hall on Friday (early Saturday morning, Manila time).

The Philippine squad held off a rally by the UAE, which saw the Strong Group's lead slashed to three, 90-87, with 14 ticks to go.

But Sedrick Barefield split his charity shots to push the lead to a two-possession advantage.

The home team was then unable to convert on the other end as Strong Group held on for the victory.

Former NBA player Nick Young had a personal 11-2 run midway through the second salvo to turn the tides for the Philippine squad after ending the opening canto down by eight, 19-27.

Young scored all but two of his points in that offensive assault that began with a four-point play. The run was capped off by a jumpshot that gave Strong Group a two-point lead, 34-32.

It signalled the beginning of the end for the Dubai nationals as they were unable to regain the lead after that.

Strong Group led by as much as 20 points, 70-50, off a BJ Andrade triple late in the third salvo.

Even if it was Young who sparked the run for Strong Group, it was former San Miguel Beer import Shabazz Muhammad who topped the scoring column with 24 points. He also had seven boards, four assists and one block.

Barefield added 23 markers, five boards, five assists and one steal. Renaldo Balkman contributed a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds.

Skipper Qais Omar Alshabebi paced the UAE in the losing effort with a double-double of 33 points and 11 rebounds.

The Strong Group hopes to ride the momentum when it faces Al Nasr of Libya on Saturday (Sunday, Manila time).


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